Sonos Zones, Music Library and Loudspeakers
Sending Music to Various Zones
Each Zone can either stream music from your music library, any of the ZonePlayer line inputs, or the Internet (via free online radio stations supported by Sonos or user-added MP3-streaming broadcasts). Did you catch the part about being able to select Line-inputs? Don't ignore that one. With Sonos, you can send any two-channel source into a ZonePlayer and then stream that source to any or all of your other zones. I would suggest hooking up the CD or DVD player's analogue outputs to the nearest ZonePlayer just because it allows you to quickly send a brand new disc (or perhaps one you haven't yet encoded) to another room with the push of a button.
The process for doing any of these things is so straightforward it is hardly worth noting. Use the Controller to select a zone, select your source and hit the 'Enter' button at the center of the scroll wheel.
Not only can you add and assign new ZonePlayers to your Sonos Digital Music System network, you can group or 'Link' zones so that more than one ZonePlayer can play the same source. This is perfect for party modes or for when you might be jumping back and forth between two particular zones. This feature really takes this system up a notch as it truly makes it a whole house music management solution.
Using the Music Library
The Music Library allows you to choose music by the following parameters:
- Track (an unabridged listing of all music in alphabetical file order)
- Imported Playlists (supports MusicMatch, Windows Media Player, WinAmp, and iTunes)
- Browse by Folder (a convenient folder view of all of your stored music per shared resource)
I didn't see any missing attributes that would cause any concern. Overall, Sonos appears to have covered all the bases in allowing you to quickly and easily select music or add songs to a queue (a soft button option which appears whenever selecting or viewing a track.)
The Sonos SP100 Loudspeakers
We connected up the Sonos SP100 loudspeakers in one of our zones (an upstairs bedroom) and played a bit with the tone controls (configurable per zone) to dial in a sound that was to our liking. Adding a subwoofer (which automatically engages an 80Hz crossover) would be a great addition to any Sonos loudspeaker system as it would free up the speakers to address only the frequencies to which they are targeted and make better use of the Sonos' dual 50 watt amplifiers. What's nice about Sonos is that the system can be used with the preamp outs, the Sonos speakers, or you can connect your own bookshelf speakers for a more custom tailored sound - it's all about the choices.
Connecting Speakers to the Sonos ZonePlayer
As I mentioned earlier, the Sonos ZonePlayer contains a pair of 50 watt amplifiers that are capable of powering a pair of 8-ohm bookshelf speakers. Weighing in at 10 lbs, the ZonePlayer would appear to have a pretty robust power supply considering its modest size (we could not check under the hood due to the construction of the Sonos enclosure). Standard 14 gauge speaker wire is provided and can be used to connect a loudspeaker with the spring-loaded binding posts of the ZonePlayer. I found the posts to work equally well with banana plugs, though the cabling is more visible.
Volume controls are available on the ZonePlayer, in addition to a Mute button, allowing you to make adjustments without requiring the Sonos Controller. The Mute button, if held for three seconds, can also be used to mute all players on the network. All of this comes in handy since, in many cases, there could be multiple zones and only one Sonos Controller (though multiple controllers can be used within a single system.) In future updates to the Sonos System we would love to see an expanded, optional version of the ZonePlayer that featured an on-board LCD screen and Controller so that key zones could operate without the wireless remote.
Using the Desktop Controller Application
Working with the Desktop Controller application is very similar to using the Sonos Controller, though it offers a more compartmentalized, expanded view of many of the options. This is primarily due to a larger amount of screen real estate, In addition, the panes are more or less made up of a dynamic areas which update based on your selections. There is a 'Zones' pane for displaying your ZonePlayers; a 'Now Playing' pane with Music, Volume, EQ, and Queue controls; and a Music Library pane for displaying your playlists, tracks, line-in sources, and /or Internet radio stations.